Monday, February 27, 2012

Boy's Bedroom Before & After

This is a great before and after but with a future update because I still haven't been able to get the comforters I want for the bunks so I'll have to reveal those at a later time.  Otherwise most things are done.

We made over my oldest son's room because we bought him a set of bunk beds.  I thought it would be a good idea to paint before we set up the bunks and besides, as you'll see, the room really needed some freshening up.

Here are a couple of before shots.  These were taken during our home inspection so the furniture is not ours but it gives you an idea of the tan and blue paint job that was there.  The only window treatment was a set of mini blinds.

And here's the other side of the room.  The kids were with us during the home inspection and they each wanted their picture in their new rooms so that is why my oldest son is looking at himself in their lamp.  

And here is the ceiling fan.  This house does get really warm on the second floor so every bedroom has one of these beauties but besides not being very attractive it was not the best idea to leave it up with new bunk beds.  I just knew there would be superheroes and matchbox cars flying off of the blades.

So without further ado here are some after pictures.  I had the worst time with some of these turning out really dark no matter what time of day I took them so bear with me and I'll try to get better ones when the new bedding comes in.

The new paint color is Valspar's lighthouse shadows matched to Sherwin Williams Duration paint.  It is a subtle cool grey-blue shade.  I bought the Sherwin Williams because I had a coupon and I prefer the Sherwin Williams for coverage.  I did do two coats in order to effectively cover the previous darker colors that were on the wall.  I also painted all the trim Pure White by Sherwin Williams.  I love white trim.  I hate painting trim - it takes forever especially the windows.  It makes such a difference against your paint colors.  

I made the curtains myself from decorator fabric I bought at Joann's.  It was on sale -don't ever buy fabric there unless it is on sale or you have a coupon - so I bought 7 yards for $50.  I had enough to make the 2 panels and I have plenty left over to make accent pillows and such for the beds.  For those of you still afraid of your sewing machines it took me less time to sew those curtains than to wash & dry the fabric.  I did not line these curtains because they face the back yard and because we also have blinds for privacy on this window.

Here are the bunk beds that started this whole transformation.  They are from Home Gallery Furniture which is an internet company.  I did a lot of price and quality comparisons and this was the best choice for us - plus it was free delivery and set up which made my husband happy.  I'm not that fond of the cherry color but it matched the dresser we already had and I didn't want to replace that too.

I love the new light fixtures.  I wanted each bunk to be able to have their own light for bedtime reading but we were not going to hard wire anything.  I finally found these on amazon and they are the perfect style for a boy's room.  Each light has it's own on/off switch and they come with the cord covers.  I would have preferred to place them on the wall at the end of the bunk but they wouldn't fit.  

This is his bookcase.  We've had this cheap laminate bookcase since college and had previously painted it navy to match his old twin bed.  The paint job really helps to make it seem like a nicer piece of furniture than it is.

In our previous homes my husband hung a shelf with brackets that ran around the perimeter of the room and we set up his train to run around the shelf.  We haven't gotten to that here so I just put some of the more interesting train cars on the shelves for display.

We tried to make his room feel a little more grown up but still display his train things without it feeling overdone.  I think by using the striped curtain fabric instead of a train-themed choice was key.  We are also getting simple navy blue comforters (if jcp ever gets them in stock again) to keep things cohesive and easily changeable if he ever gets sick of trains.

I think 3 things were key to making his room feel bigger even though we added a huge piece of furniture:  painting the room a solid color from floor to ceiling allows your eye to travel all the way up the wall without stopping like it did with the old paint job, the striped curtains were purposely hung high and wide to make the window seem taller and bigger, and replacing the ceiling fan with a smaller flush-mount light.  It is amazing how much of a difference replacing that huge monstrosity made in the overall feeling of the room.  Now I know the boob light is not the most attractive thing but for $10 it is way better visually than the fan. 

Since I painted his closet door I thought I would switch out the door knob too.  It's the little details like these that make the room feel special to my son.

So for those that will want to know this redo came in at about $1100.  Now I know that seems like a lot but the bunks were the biggest chunk of the budget.  Everything else (the 3 light fixtures, fabric, paint, door knobs, etc) came in just over $200.  

As soon as I get some bedding I'll give some updates on that but for now I think we are done.

Now maybe I'll get back to those kitchen cabinets.  We'll see:)

~Gold Shoe Girl~ 
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring Bling

Ever since I put up the basket on the front door I've been in the mood for everything in the house to be more springy.  So in between all the other things that went on over the weekend I updated the console table that visitors see from the front door.

After I had taken down the Christmas decorations, the table was just hanging out with the lamps all by themselves so I added the runner and the rest of the accessories to jazz it up a little bit.

The glass jars were a clearance item at Joann's for $0.97 each and the floral stems were on sale too.  I cut up one branch to use in all three jars.

Then I added the vintage books under the lamps to finish off the top of the table.  I like it to be simple and not all cluttered.

On the bottom shelf I kept the stack of books and added an old antique hook to the top of the pile.  Then I just put an old crock and a set of Ikea baskets on either side of the books.  Ignore the cords.  Eventually I will get around to taping those so they don't show.

Here's a close up of the hook.  It came from our old house.  It was just hanging in the back of a closet all willy-nilly so I re-appropriated it for more decorative uses.  Eventually I think I will use it as a wreath hanger in our bedroom.  Until then it just floats around looking lovely wherever I put it.

Has anyone else added anything springy to their decor yet?  It seems a little early up here in  Chicagoland but then I read on Jane's blog that they are planting their veggie beds already - so jealous.

~ Gold Shoe Girl~

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Sidetracked by American Girl

Santa brought my daughter an American Girl doll this Christmas.  Apparently out here in Chicagoland it is the must have thing for girls of a certain age.  The problem is that Santa didn't shell out for any additional outfits and really I don't blame him when the doll outfits cost as much as real people outfits and he already paid a ridiculous amount of money for the doll itself.

So in an attempt to appease the "all my friends have more outfits than me" and "you're so mean" whining I decided to whip up a few outfits on my own.  I should tell you that I really don't mind the "mean" comments - in fact I relish them.  That's how I know I'm doing my job.  I think all moms have to learn to embrace the mean thing.  I love to look straight at the child who has just declared I am the meanest mom ever for whatever reason and say "I know".  Try it sometime.  It is very liberating.  In any event my sewing machine was out and I had some scrap fabric so I decided to see what I could come up with.

There are a few websites that offer some free patterns and some offer inexpensive downloadable patterns.  Because I am also cheap (in addition to mean) I decided to try out some free ones.  If you're interested you can check out the Liberty Jane Doll Pattern store.  She offers some free patterns and then you can buy most of the others for $3.99 each.  I also found this website which has some of the original old fashioned American Girl doll clothes patterns for free but they are a little more advanced.

Now I am always surprised at how reluctant so many people are to sew.  If you can figure out how to use your kitchen appliances, some power tools and a computer than there is no reason you can't use a simple sewing machine.  Besides these days you can find them for less than $99 at Target.

So here's the first dress I made from the Liberty Jane free pattern.  It's just a simple gathered top spring dress that I made from a remnant that had been in my stash for 10+ years - so really after depreciation and it all consider it free.  Total time was less than an hour.  

Now after that I tried their free t-shirt pattern.  Since I did not have any extra knit fabric I decided to use an old t-shirt of my daughter's that was headed for Goodwill.  This time I took better pictures for you all of the process.

First you download the pdf.  Then I printed the pattern pages out on cardstock.  

Then I placed the pattern pieces on the fabric.  Because the fabric had stripes I made sure that I placed the front and back in the same way on the fabric - otherwise you will end up with one side of the shirt with horizontal stripes and the other side with vertical stripes.  And to make it even more easy on myself I eliminated a sewing step by using the already finished hem of the existing shirt by placing the pattern piece so that the bottom of the doll shirt was aligned with the hem of the real shirt.

Now all you professional follow the rules sewers turn away.  Normally you pin all around the edges of the pattern and then cut out the fabric leaving the pattern pinned to the fabric.  That takes forever.  So I just traced around the pieces with a ball point pen.  Yep.  Not a fancy wash out fabric pencil just a regular old bic pen directly on the fabric.  Remember the fabric is inside out and it is for a doll.  It was easy to trace because of printing the pattern on the cardstock.  Plus the cardstock will hold up for a long time in case I make a few more of these.

Once your pieces are cut out (all 4 of the them) you just follow the easy breezy directions that come with the pdf.  The Liberty Jane instructions are nice because they show a picture at every step so it is much easier if you're a beginner sewer.

Here's the finished shirt.  Not bad.  Especially since it was free.

Now the pattern called for the back to be closed with a piece of velcro but since I didn't have any I just substituted little metal snaps that you sew on with a needle and thread.  My theory on sewing, especially sewing for dolls, is to use what you have and make it work.  Don't get all caught up in what the pattern says just use common sense.

I had a lot of extra t-shirt left so I made a headband out of the scraps.  I cut a rectangle the length of her head, folded it in half wrong-side out, sewed a straight seam at the edge which made it a tube, turned it right-side out and then sewed the short ends together.  Not at all difficult.

Yep.  Just call me Mom of the Year.  My daughter really likes the new things and is now putting in requests.  I told her mean moms don't take requests:)

So anyways this foray into doll clothing sidetracked my curtains for another day.  Oh and the kitchen painting.  Oh well.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~
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Keeping It Simple

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spring Anyone?

Last week I was in the Joann Fabrics buying fabric for curtains for my son's room.  I don't go there often, and I decided to take a little spin around the aisles.  Well, I did find fabric but I also found $100 worth of other delights:).  One thing I bought was the set of faux stained glass window clings that I put on our front door.

I also purchased a lovely large flat door basket for the front door.  I have been on the lookout for one for a while and they had a perfect one in their clearance aisle.  So I added it to my cart.  Well, then I needed to get some florals to put in said basket.  Cause it would be a waste to buy the basket and then not be able to use it.  

Anyways, I bring all my goodies home and then I arranged my florals in the basket and hung it on the front door.

It makes me happy.

I would take a picture from outside except that there is a light dusting of snow out there.  That stinks.  I really really want it to be spring now.  I know I shouldn't complain because this has been the easiest winter ever, but I am ready for no winter.  If we ever move again it had better be south.

Sometimes I think it needs more flowers and other times I think it is all good.  In any event, I like how the brown basket and the white and green of the flowers contrast against the door.  It needs a different hook than that old brass wreath hanger, but I am waiting on the antique door knocker I bought on ebay last week.  Once I attach that to the door I will have to adjust the basket and I was so excited to get this up I just made do for now.

I haven't really told you much about my oldest son's room but it is getting a total makeover.  We purchased bunk beds and decided that before they were delivered we should give the room a new paint job.  So we have painted the room and all the trim (which just takes forever), added the bunk beds, installed new lighting and finally yesterday I picked up the curtain fabric.  It is in the washer as I type and so I hope to finish everything up this week and be able to share soon.  Except I forgot that the comforters I want for the beds are out of stock - of course.  But I think I'll share anyways or else you'll think I haven't been doing anything lately.

~Gold Shoe Girl~
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Install Under Cabinet Accent Lights

When we bought our house the back corner of the kitchen was very dark.  I figured it was because of the flat tan wall color and the dark green countertops.  I thought once we put in the white marble subway tile that the light would bounce around and reflect off and somehow make it brighter - well, yeah, that's what I thought and it didn't.  The corner was still dark and it is really tough to see what you are doing even during the daytime.  So the other day I was in Home Depot and I spotted this light kit.

They are by {Hampton Bay} and cost just under $20.  I was liking them because they were a plug-in version and also because they could be surface mounted instead of cutting a hole into the bottom of the cabinets.  For $20 bucks I thought what the heck and brought them home.

Here's the kitchen corner without the lights.  And, yes, someday I will finish painting the cabinets but I am so dreading it so I seem to keep finding other things to do like stained glass window appliques, pillows, media centers, etc.  

And here's the after...

You can see how the lights are hitting not only the backsplash but also shining on the counter.  Ooooo Ahhhh.

Now here's my simple how to instructions.  Remember this is the way I did it, and I am not an electrician, but it was much easier than the included instructions made it out to be.  

How To Install Accent Lights Under  Your Cabinets

Step One:  Decide where you are going to plug in the lights.  You are given 1 cord with an end like an extension cord that has 3 outlets - one for each of the lights.  You have to make sure the outlet end is in a spot where all 3 of your light cords can reach.

I decided that we were going to plug ours in the outlet behind our coffee maker that way the cord would be almost completely hidden.  The cord goes from behind the coffee maker up underneath the bottom of the cabinets and through a hole I drilled in the bottom of our corner cabinet.  

Here's the outlet and the white cord is the one that goes to the accent lights.  

You can see that only about 6 inches of this cord is exposed.  Since this was the case I decided it was not worth the hassle to install the on/off switch that is provided in the light kit.  It's really easy for me to just use the plug whenever I want to turn the lights on and off. To install the switch the instructions said something about cutting the wire apart and some other things I really didn't want to do so I just didn't use the switch.  

I suppose if your outlet was hidden or placed in an awkward spot then you would want the switch.  The cord would then run in the bottom and out the top of the switch and they give you a holder so you could mount the switch with the cord in place.

I decided after placing the lights where I wanted them that I would have a lot of extra cord length that would be a hassle to hide under the cabinets.  My solution was to put the outlet end of the main cord up inside the corner cabinet with the other cords running to it.  This allowed me to have all the excess cord length and the big fat outlet part hidden up inside the cabinet.

Now you may think making a hole like this is difficult but it is not.  I knew I did not have a drill bit the right size and I didn't feel like dragging 3 kids to the hardware store so I improvised.  I found the biggest drill bit we had and just started drilling one hole after another until I got a rectangular shaped honeycomb type effect and then I just whammed the hammer into it and I had myself a nice big hole.  Yep.  Nothing fancy or special about it.  It is hidden and doesn't have to look good.  

Step Two:  Arrange all the cords.  So in my case this is happening up inside the cabinet. I put the large outlet cord on the inside of the cabinet and ran its plug down through the hole back to the outlet.  Then I ran each individual light's plug up through the hole and plugged it into the outlet.

Step Three:  Disassemble the light fixtures.  It has 3 pieces - the cover with the glass, the actual fixture with the bulb, and the white plastic housing.  The cover unscrews from the fixture and then I was able to get the fixture and the housing apart very easily with a flat head screwdriver.

Step Four:  Attach the housing onto the underside of the cabinet.  This is the part where I needed help.  The screw is tiny.  Tiny.  I couldn't hold the housing up against the bottom of the cabinet and get the screw on the screwdriver and screw it through the hole into the cabinet all at the same time.  I tried taping the housing on the cabinet and that just blocked the screw hole.  So then I waited for my husband to come home.  And then somehow he managed to do it by himself.  Whatever.  So perhaps if you are like my husband you can do it by yourself and perhaps if you are like me you will either need someone to hold it for you or just do it for you.

Also you have to make sure the the cord stays in the notch on the housing when you screw up the housing.  It's kinda obvious but I thought I should mention it.

Step Five:  Put the light back together.  Carefully push the fixture back into the housing and then screw the cover back onto the housing.

Step Six:  Tack your cords into place.  The kit comes with 6 cord holder things - they are little plastic things that grab the cord and have a nail in it that you nail into place.  Start at the light fixture and make the cord taut and then using your judgement nail the holder into the cabinet.

The cord will slide back and forth in these holders so it gives you some play if you need it.

In our case I ran out of the holder things and they were kinda a pain to hammer in on the underside of the cabinet so I ended up securing the rest of the cord with some electrical tape.    I placed each light under 3 different cabinets approximately a foot or two away from the center and I still had a lot of excess cord.  All that excess went up inside the cabinet instead of us trying to tape up all the extra cord.  

Here's how it looks all done.  Trust me.  No one can see any of this stuff.  I had to stick the camera under the cabinet at an angle to get these pictures.

Just one more before & after...

So after a little bit of effort and a tiny bit of help from the hubby they were installed and working great.  Again another cheap and easy project that has made a big difference in our kitchen.  Now if I could just get those cabinets painted...

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~
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